Russian suspects deny involvement in MH17 downing
Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy deny any involvement in the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014. On Wednesday the Joint Investigation Team announced that four suspects, including Girkin and Dubinsky, will be prosecuted for the disaster.
Girkin and Dubinskiy, along with fellow Russian Oleg Pulatov and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, are suspected of playing crucial roles in delivering the BUK missile system that shot down the Malaysia Airlines flight. They will be prosecuted for causing the MH17 crash and leading to the death of everyone on board. They are also facing charges of murdering 298 passengers of MH17.
Girkin told Russian media agency Interfax that he will not testify in this case. He denied any involvement, adding that the separatist militia was also not involved in downing the plane. "I can only say that the militia didn't bring down the Boeing", Girkin, who also goes by Igor Strelkov, said to Interfax. He called the evidence against him, which includes a wiretapped call of him discussing the need for extra military support in eastern Ukraine, "fake" while speaking to news wire AP. He also told Russian radio station Business FM that the JIT never contacted him.
Dubinskiy also said that he would refuse to testify in the case. His spokesperson said to Interfax: "Sergei retired in 2013, and since then has been living in Russia." According to the spokesperson, Dubinsky no longer works with any kind of armed force and is living a private life.
The four suspects will be tried in the Netherlands, by the court in The Hague. The trial against them will start in the high security court at Schiphol on March 9th next year. Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke called on the suspects to take note of this date and attend the trial, though he added that the "odds are not on our side" that they will actually show up. He stressed that the trial will continue in their absence.
International arrest warrants were issued against the suspects on Wednesday, and they will be placed on international wanted lists. During the JIT press conference on Wednesday, Ukraine said it will assist in the arrest of Kharchenko, a national of the country.